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ATHENS – Facing political oblivion, former PASOK Socialist leader and previous Greek Premier George Papandreou said he wants to align his new party with the poll-leading major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) – but only if its leader agrees to a referendum on austerity and reforms.

Ironically, it was insistence on a referendum – which didn’t happen – that ran Papandreou out of office in 2011, relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he had imposed on orders of international lenders.

After he stepped aside, Papandreou turned the leadership over to his Finance Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, who has continued to back big pay cut, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings while serving Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras’ coalition government.

Under Venizelos, PASOK has fallen to 3-5 percent in polls and Papandreou broke with him and the party his father, the late former Premier Andreas Papandreou, founded four decades ago to create another called Kinima which has barely registered in polls and is unlikely to win enough of the vote to enter Parliament after the critical Jan. 25 elections.

SYRIZA has a slight, but growing, lead over New Democracy and is likely to win, according to surveys, but without enough of the vote to control Parliament or form a government, and would need to find a coalition partner.

Kinima is a wild card in the elections and could split the vote among Leftists but will be out of the picture unless it hits the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament, which would moot Papandreou’s overture to his former dreaded enemy SYRIZA.

Papandreou is a more moderate voice who backs Greece’s staying in the Eurozone – as does SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras – but is saddled with the onus of being the man who implemented austerity and created outrage among vulnerable Greeks who were hit the hardest.

Tsipras said he wants to rule outright, which polls show he can’t, and said he’s only interested in having the KKE Communists join him – but they’ve rejected that, leaving him with nowhere to go unless he changes his stance.

Papandreou said he’s confident his Movement of Democratic Socialists will get into Parliament but surveys show even if it does it would be with just a handful of seats in the 300-member body.

His aim, he said was to shift the debate in Greece away from a narrow focus on support or opposition to its tough bailout program that he instituted and has defended, which is antithetical to SYRIZA’s position.

“It’s not about the deeper issues we have in our country or the changes we need to make and I want to bring that back in the debate,” he told Reuters in an interview.

He ruled out an alliance with New Democracy, complaining that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras – his roommate in the early 1970s at Boston’s Amherst College in Massachusetts – had failed to implement reforms or stand up to special interest lobbies, the same charges critics have leveled at Papandreou.

Samaras’ government has failed to implement hundreds of reforms demanded by the Troika of the European Union–International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that has put up 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two bailout packages.

The post Papandreou Wants Alliance With SYRIZA – Reforms Referendum Too appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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